Meteor Crater was caused by the explosive impact of a large meteor; Sunset Crater (north of Flagstaff) was caused by a Volcano. Meteor Crater is located east of Flagstaff off Interstate 40. It is operated by a private company.
Take I-40 east from Flagstaff. Head south from exit #233.
The short drive from I-40 to the crater wanders through very pretty terrain. Red rock and dirt, green high desert shrubs and blue sky create a colorful landscape.
The road is new blacktop and in very good condition (August 2007). At the crater, there are indoor and outdoor viewing areas. A big screen movie is included in the entrance fee.
A guided tour (also included with the entrance fee) follows the rim. The tour covers approximately 1 mile round trip; feet must be covered (open back shoes not allowed). If you prefer staying out of the sun, an air conditioned, indoor viewing area is available. Watch the movie to learn about the meteor, and visit the Astronaut Memorial Park at the Visitors' Center. An RV park, with grocery store, is provided for overnight stays.
An on-site restaurant offers food and beverages; an outdoor picnic area provides extra eating space.
Apollo space mission personnel trained at Meteor Crater because of its similarity to the moon's crater-pocked surface.
The on-site museum contains information and exhibits about the Apollo missions and NASA's use of Meteor Crater. Due to on-going research by scientists, visitors are not allowed inside the crater. The paved paths provide spectacular views of the crater.1.
Boiler Plate 29A was built in 1965 to test systems that allowed the capsule to float in water upon re-entry; it never actually flew in space 1. We saw the capsule when we visited Meteor Crater in 2008. It is hard to imagine astronauts living in such small quarters! Visit the on-site Astronaut "Wall Of Fame" for a walk through history. The capsule and Wall Of Fame are located in the Astronaut Memorial Park.
50,000 years ago a several hundred thousand ton iron-nickel meteor slammed into the earth with a force greater than 20 million tons of TNT, creating Meteor Crater.
The crater measures 700 feet deep and over 4,000 feet across 1.
For maps and information on hiking and exploring the area, go to: www.nps.gov/pefo.
Puerco Pueblo, located on the park road on the south side of I 40, housed approximately 1,200 people 600-800 years ago1. Take the self guided tour via the short paved trail to view the pueblo remains and petroglyphs. Do not touch the petroglyphs; oils from hands can damage them.
Below: Petroglyphs at Puerco Pueblo. People have inhabited the area for thousands of years; learn about their history and cultures by visiting the visitor's center.
To read the fascinating history of how this crater was formed, and obtain information on the hours of operation, visit the Meteor Crater website at:
1. "Meteor Crater Brief History." (Brochure) Meteor Crater Enterprises, Inc.